- The Lincoln National Forest provides a diversity of landscapes, landforms, and an assortment of plant and animal habitats. Climatic relief provided by the mountains draw people in the summer from surrounding desert and plains. Travelers will find spectacular views of sunsets across the desert as well as breathtaking views of the Tularosa Basin and White Sands National Monument from the Sunspot Scenic Byway. Higher elevations offer mountain meadows, mixtures of pine, fir, aspen, oak, and other vibrant greens which are broken by the brilliance of wildflowers, blossoming plants, and trees that change with the season.
Scenic Drives include: U.S. Highway 70 to Ruidoso; State Highway 48 to Capitan; State Highway 532 to Ski Apache; West Side Road (Forest Road 90); State Highway 130 through Cox Canyon, then south on Highway 24 to Pinon; U.S. Highway 82 to Cloudcroft and Mayhill; and Sunspot Scenic Byway, State Highway 6563.
Two Wilderness Areas exist on the Forest ranging in elevations from 4,000 to 11,500 feet which pass through five different life zones from Chihuahuan Desert to subalpine forest. The White Mountain Wilderness offers unique recreational opportunities and views for the equestrian, hiker and hunter. A variety of wildlife exists, however, fishing
opportunities are limited. The Capitan Mountains Wilderness lies in the Captain Mountains, which represent a geologic anomaly in the western hemisphere in that it is one of the few ranges that runs east and west. Most of the area is steep and rocky except for open meadows along the main ridge top. The east end of the range has many outcroppings and is very rough terrain.
Caving is a very popular activity in the Guadalupe Mountains. The southern most tip of the District includes approximately 35 square miles of rugged mountains and canyons, which is a massive exposure of the ancient Captain Barrier reef.
The mountains also provide winter sports opportunities not found elsewhere in the area. Tubing, snowmobiling and cross-county skiing activities are quite popular. Two downhill ski areas are partially located on the National Forest, Ski Apache and Ski Cloudcroft.
Recreation - The Forest offers the user a variety of recreational opportunities any season of the year. Whether you enjoy sight-seeing, wildlife watching, picnicking, camping, hiking, nature study, hunting, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, motorcycling, snowmobiling, alpine or cross country skiing, or caving, the Lincoln National Forest can provide the recreational experience you are seeking. The Forest offers twelve developed campgrounds, six group camp and picnic grounds and two day use picnic areas, all of which offer the user the serenity of Forest camping.
Climate - Climate on the Lincoln varies greatly with elevation. The day to night temperature change is extreme, especially above 7,000 feet. Even in summer, nights are cool to cold depending on elevation. You'll find snow at timberline until June. Expect frequent afternoon thunderstorms in July and August. Winter brings snow to the higher elevations. Sunny days are common however, even in the winter, with temperatures normally reaching into the 30's and 40's, or higher at the low elevations.
The Lincoln National Forest is located in south-central New Mexico. The Forest covers over 1.1 million acres stretching north from Texas past the Capitan Mountains. The Forest is headquartered in Alamogordo, with offices also in Sacramento, Ruidoso and Carlsbad. A portion of the Lincoln sits adjacent to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands National Monument is located nearby.